Meet Jess Glynne, British singer and songwriter known for her bright, uplifting songs and vocal resonance. Having gained popularity for her prominent vocal feature on the most streamed song of 2014, Clean Bandit's "Rather Be", Jess rose to the top of the charts and has managed to consistently release best-selling hits over the past 4 years. Glynne recently broke the record as the first female British solo artist to have 6 number-one singles in UK chart history. Her latest single, "I'll Be There", which dropped on May 4th with a scenic music video, is already a smash hit, with nearly 30 million views on YouTube, and 58 million streams on Spotify at the time of publishing.
Captivating audiences with her powerful voice and soulful rhythms, Jess has made a name for herself among solo artists as an undeniable talent. Her raw vocals add a new and unique touch to pop and dance music, bringing back purity to a categorically digital genre. She's marked her own style and gotten firm grasp of a covetable vocal recognizability that few artists have been able to master, scoring her feature credits on songs with some of the world's biggest artists; turning every single she lends her voice to into an instant chart-topper.
I sat down with the Grammy award-winning artist to chat about her explosive rise to fame, and her formula for chart-topping singles.
THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR BREVITY AND CLARITY.
"SO YOU JUST RELEASED A NEW SINGLE, "I'LL BE THERE", AND I'M CURIOUS, WHAT WAS THE PROCESS FOR THAT SONG? HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?"
"The song is just about...never being alone and knowing that there's always someone there. Just remembering that you're not the only one that feels that way, and the song was written from quite a personal place. One of my friends was going through something really deep with a breakup and I wrote the song with her and that's where the song came from: her kind of thanking me for being there. With my last album, she said that it helped her and how she listened to it through her breakup and it really saved her from a lot of sad nights."
"And so, you've had a lot of hit singles, you recently broke a record for the most #1 singles in UK chart history as a female British solo artist, do you remember the exact moment that things started to feel surreal in your career? Do you remember the tipping point where you were like 'okay, this is big'?"
"Yeah, I think when "Hold My Hand" went to number one in the UK, [that] was a massive tipping point for me. I think it was like "holy shit! Is this actually real?" and from then, onwards, it felt like a rollercoaster, just completely insane."
"You're 28 now... how does it feel to have had these experiences throughout the better half of your twenties? Managing success and fame, that's a very unique experience. How does that feel?"
"Amazing! I mean it's really surreal considering I'm still so young and I've achieved so much and I've only had one album out. It's kind of mental to think I've done all of that in such a short space of time, but it's also amazing because it's such an incredible beginning."
"AND HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC STYLE? I THINK YOU DEFINITELY MAKE MUSIC THAT MAKES GOOD USE OF YOUR VOCAL ABILITY AND RANGE, BUT HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?"
"Hmm, I'm not sure. I guess I would describe it as "vocal pop"? Yeah, I think that's how I would describe it."
"And what does your song writing process look like?"
"Songwriting is a weird one because it's always different. Sometimes you get in the studio and you write, sometimes you go in with a melody, sometimes you go in with an idea, but it depends on how the session flows and where you're at and what it is you wanna say and what you wanna create in the moment. I think for me, everything is quite personal, so there's always a story or something that comes from an emotional background or things that I've been through."
"Was there a song that you really enjoyed the process of making? A song that really fell together and clicked when you heard it?"
" 'Hold My Hand' came together really well, and on my new album, there's a song called '1,2,3', which is one of my favourite songs. It came together really beautifully, it just turned out that a group of me and my favourite people that I love writing with, just scanning over loads of ideas, turned into this wicked song. So yeah, that's definitely a favourite of mine."
"How do you get over creative blocks?"
"I go away and I don't create, because it's like... there's nothing worse than trying to do something when you're not in the right headspace."
"Are there a few artists that really inspire you?"
"Yeah, there are loads of artists that inspire me. Erykah Badu massively inspires me, especially when I was younger, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, Frank Ocean, Kanye ... so many artists! Beyonce, vocally and creatively, she's insane. I'm inspired on a daily basis."
"Do you think there's a discernible difference between UK audiences and American audiences? DO you think they want something different from you?"
"Definitely. There are differences between audiences all over the world, wherever you go, it's always different. It's really refreshing because... if everything were the same, it would be so boring."
"And do you feel like there's an audience that's most receptive to your music?"
"I do love American audiences, I think they're so loving and so loud and appreciative. I love British audiences, but I don't have a favourite. It's always just as amazing [performing in foreign countries]"
"Going back to the beginning, how did you get your start in music? What was it like when you decided to pursue it full time?"
"When I was working in management, I used to work at a music management company and I decided at that point in time that being behind the scenes and working in an office wasn't for me. It was kind of then, that I was like, 'alright, I'm gonna do this as a career and I'm gonna go and get another job and do something part-time and start writing and creating and become an artist', so that's what I did!"
"AND WHAT's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?"
"I think the biggest challenge -and I guess it's always gonna be there- is insecurity and being in people's faces and being famous and I think learning to just be okay with who you are and remember this is the job I've chosen and people will look at you, people will judge you, but [you have to] wipe it off and be you and not let it get to you."
"How do you balance it all and stay sane?"
"Good people around me make sure I always fit time in for me and my family and my friends. Making sure I have a good routine when it comes to eating and looking after myself."
"Lastly, what big projects do you have planned for the rest of this year?"
"I have an album coming out in September, that's probably the biggest [project]. I'm going on tour in November in the UK and then the rest of the world at the end of the year and through 2019. Those are my biggest projects so far. It's quite a lot!"